Owner and general contractor: Saturn Power Corp., Ontario, Canada

Details: Saturn Power is erecting an 85-acre solar power-generating facility, Tumbleweed Solar, about halfway between Bend and Redmond just east of U.S. Highway 97.

Work is progressing on a steel rack system, a steel frame on which the photovoltaic cells, in panels, are mounted, said Larry Henry, Saturn Power project manager, on Wednesday.

Saturn Power employs a fixed-rack system, with south-facing panels, as opposed to a tracking system that allows the panels to move as the sun moves across the sky, he said.

“We did an economic study and did not feel the tracker system warrants the additional expense and maintenance over the life of the project,” Henry said.

Saturn Power purchased the property, 97 acres in all, for $1.3 million in April 2015, according to Deschutes County property records. Building permits issued in July indicate a construction value at the site of $440,000, according to county records.

Saturn Power obtained county approval for the project in April 2016, according to The Bulletin archives. The project is expected to produced 10 megawatts when it comes online late this year or early next year. That’s enough electricity to power 1,500 homes.

“It’s scheduled to be complete by Dec. 31,” Henry said. “In late November it’ll be substantially complete and we’ll be doing the testing, they call that the commissioning.”

Henry said the project employs about 15 workers with another 35 when construction is at its peak. He said much of the work is farmed out to local contractors.

Saturn Power has a 20-year power purchase agreement with PacifiCorp, parent company of Pacific Power, according to Henry and Oregon Public Utility Commission records. Saturn Power has another project, Chiloquin Solar LLC, in Klamath County.

— Joseph Ditzler, The Bulletin

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